Friday, 18 March 2011

Shepherds Delight

Home made Shepherds Pie

I don't know whether it's being an artist that makes me enjoy being in the kitchen cooking just a little bit more. But I often find food combinations as exciting as the colour combinations when I am working in watercolour.

Yesterday was a typically dull English day with rain and grey skies. This is the kind of weather that seems to call for comfort food rather than anything more exotic. As I had cooked a lamb roast the day before I decided to make a wonderful mash topping for the remaining lamb which I used as a base in a tasty gravy with fresh vegeltables of carrots and peas. With just a touch of seasoning so as not to detract from the delicious tender fresh lamb this made a wonderful supper.

I remember my  step mother who was a terrific cook always making three meals out of a joint of meat. Lamb would always start as a roast on a Sunday, turn into a shepherds pie on a Tuesday followed by amazing lamb patties  on a Wednesday. Food in her home was never frozen as fresh meals were planned ahead, looked forward to and enjoyed.  Different vegetables were used with each dish to ring the changes. It was a way of life in my childhood that I look back at and wonder how families of today  will  create memories from the many fast food and ready prepared meals now available in stores. These my step mother completely frowned upon because she was never convinced all the vitamins or goodness was in them. As a working mother she took a pride in what she placed on the table every day, how it was presented and how it was enjoyed. She was a humble lady from a large family of thirteen, mainly brothers who went down the mines as soon as they were old enough. She told many stories of hardship and making do. Creating culinary delights out of next to nothing was an ability she carried that I admired. Even potatoe peelings were deep fried, topped with  salt and served as a side dish hot from the pan and delicious. Nothing was wasted. I had to smile when I saw these on a menu in an upmarket restaurant recently. The mention of a particular rock salt topping made them  a speciality dish!

My life is very different now but I never forget all the wonderful lessons she taught me especially in the kitchen. Cooking meals like shepherds pie brings my feet firmly back down to earth  and gives me time to reflect on how lucky I am.

All from one simple meal.

Living in a cottage I will look forward to making the popular cottage pie which is the same but with beef as the base in the coming months.

I adore cooking but looking forward to eating this was even better!

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